Congress president election exposes deep fault lines

Shashi Tharoor seeks publication of electoral rolls

September 02, 2022 11:57 am | Updated September 03, 2022 10:53 am IST - New Delhi

Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor. File

Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor. File | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The upcoming presidential election in the Congress party has deepened the factional divide across States. While the reformists are insisting on greater transparency such as publishing the electoral roll on the party’s website, leaders close to the party’s high command are blaming them for “creating confusion”.

Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor, who is said to be considering contesting the election, formally wrote to the chairman of the party’s central election authority, Madhusudan Mistry, seeking the publication of the electoral rolls for the upcoming election to the post of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) president.

Another Lok Sabha member from Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi, too, has written to Mr. Mistry asking him to make the list of delegates, who make up the electoral college, public.

Their letters come just days after Lok Sabha members Manish Tewari and Karti Chidambaram made a similar demand to make the electors’ list public

The growing debate about the procedure to be adopted in the presidential debate also reflects the intense factionalism in the Congress across States.

Though the demand to make the delegate list public has been turned down by general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal, a powerful leader in Kerala, Mr. Tharoor represents the other view in Kerala Congress.

In Assam, most of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) functionaries are believed to be Gandhi family loyalists, with PCC chief Bhupen Borah and Lok Sabha member Gaurav Gogoi idenified as being part of Team Rahul Gandhi.

However, Mr. Bordoloi’s letter clearly points to a faction in Assam Congress that is increasingly feeling “left out” from the decision-making process.

In Maharashtra, a section of the party led by PCC chief Nana Patole has been critical of the public statements made by the G-23 leaders, the ginger group that has been pushing for internal reforms in the party for the past two years, including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

The secretary of the Indian Overseas Congress, Virender Vashist, is said to have approached the disciplinary panel against Mr. Chavan.

In Haryana, former PCC chief Kumari Selja, considered very close to the Gandhi family, wrote a letter to the high command against former Chief Bhupinder Singh Hooda for meeting former Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had quit the party last week.

“When Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister, none stood with the Gandhi family, but I was with them at the time. I was with them then and I am still standing with the family,” Mr. Hooda responded on Thursday, adding that he and other G-23 leaders such as Mr. Chavan and Anand Sharma had met Mr. Azad to ask why he quit without informing them.

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